in the Shadow of Greatness

:: Zelazny :: [polish] :: sparks that fly from the ironsmith's hammer ::

::. Friday, August 15 .::

The Neal Pollack Invasion :: Fair and Balanced Friday
Which sounds a lot like Freaky Friday to me. OK, here goes--the balance to this blog you've all been waiting for.

Look folks, the freakin' Chaosians just want their frelling icon back which was stolen by you bloody idiot forkin' scions of a freaky hunchback at the instigation of a two-leg-frelling mute magic horsey decidedly not innocent of all but malice.

On top of that, you got yourselves a nice Grand Doohickey in the basement at no cost while the freakin' Chaosians are stuck with the mind-ream called the Logrus.

Give 'em a fair and balanced bit of a frelling break would'ja?
Thank you.

[tip of the hat to Jvstin]

:: Arref Mak 15.8.03 :: link ::
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Perverse Access Memory:
WISH 60: Frames of Reference
How do you use different frames of reference or mindsets in your games? In what ways do your characters or NPCs in games you GM think differently from the people around you? What sorts of things make them different (societal, mental, physical, etc.)? Do you feel that you’re successful in incorporating and showing the differences?
I'm very interested in culture as it applies to Amber. I won't hit Players over the head with it, because I don't demand they adhere to my bias of RPing.

I give high marks to those Players who play royal amberites who are first, of Amber, and second, well-traveled of shadow.

In this, play examples of Players discovering how this must cause Characters to think differently are excellent. Like Ginger, I have a problem with a Character who wants to introduce "modern ideas" as inherently superior (or make themselves an 'Edison' of Amber when the Character is transparently inspired by the Player and not in-game events.)

At the same time--I am flexible with transport of shadow concepts into Amber (Oberon was famous for trying this when it suited him) as long as folks are reacting to them from an Amber viewpoint, not a earth-modern viewpoint.

It is telling, to me, that Corwin, Merlin, Random, Frakir, and Rinaldo--our narrators--always fall back upon an Amber mindset in the way they see things, no matter how arcane or shadow-obscure their education and exposure to new things. While I don't reject Character concepts that have amberites being raised on shadow-earth, or in science-fiction backgrounds, I am less interested in them as a GM as it is possible to get lazy about that Frame of Reference.

The single most difficult pose for a Player is that there is a Real Difference between Your Royal and otherfolks. My friends and fellow Players are too darn modern and egalitarian. They expect to be friends with the people they spend time with. So I see Royals who are asking for servants to call them by their first name. Not only this sort of thing, but if another Player comes along who's Character demonstrates a sociopathic disregard for otherfolks--peer pressure can build to curb that behavior.

There is a fine line here.

For instance, the example I give above about servants. Showing respect between classes doesn't mean that your Royal Character should use and discard servants. It doesn't mean that Psyche attacks on groomsmen and stableboys is considered 'good fun'.

With power, comes great responsibility. Most Players get that part.

But here's another example: novice Royals in my campaigns kill people they don't intend to. How? Why? Because if a Player says, in a desperate scene, "I have an opening? Finally! I hit the bastard as hard as I can!" That NPC is probably dead. Why? Because most opponents are not four to eight times stronger than human--and it is my firm belief that Royals generally forget this a lot. They walk around with a "shucks, I'm not much different than you" pose. Corwin even tries this with Bill Roth, dodging that he is not human--not even close to human.

Another example: novice Royals in my campaigns have a damned hard time making friends. Why? Well, in shadow, are you talking to the same person that you were the last time you came through this way? Have you noticed how attracted to you your new friend is? Or do you wonder if this NPC is really acting in their best interests as they help You?

Another: Royals are incredibly wealthy, usually. Even if Amber's economy is stable and moves along on an advanced Renaissance footing--most Royals have had centuries to put their own assets to best use. Gerard, that good-natured fellow that seems so slow--- he owns banks. He needs a new ship for the Southern Fleet and doesn't have time to go through the Treasury. He pays for it out of his own pocket.

In House of Cards, there is a simple mechanic that emulates the "mindset" issue in subtle fashion, though quite well: zero-point powers. They don't really change play or plot, but they matter. A lot. Something similar, in con games I've been running, I ask Players to assign a one-word Expertise to each of the Attributes. Like "sleight-of-hand" for Strength. This does two things--it gives the Player immediate focus and niche for the Character, and it allows an "up one rank" show of competancy.

And if there is one frame of reference that Amber games must respect and that can be a struggle to RP, it is competancy.

:: Arref Mak 15.8.03 :: link ::
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The Gamer's Nook: What did you do in the blackout, daddy?
As it happens :: blackout in northeast US

:: Arref Mak 15.8.03 :: link ::
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::. Thursday, August 14 .::

Pattern Swords and Amber
We've noticed those canon blades traced with a portion of the Pattern.
Bley's unnamed sword

Some of us have read in the Zelazny short stories (soon to be republished, my copy is reserved already) that the first two swords are actually transformed spikards (there's that nasty word again, my precious.) This leads to some thought about Bley's sword, which in turn makes wonder of what other spikards might be doing down through the long years, and also generates wonder about why Tir is connected to Grayswandir.

...elsewhere I've spoken about spikards being a plot element all Characters IMC wish to keep out of the running story...

Elemental Patterns are old news (at least in the online Amber community) and yet this is a neat package if Bleys has a fiery blade tied to the missing/hidden Pattern of Fire.
But Elemental Spikards have not been chatted up--except here, I think. Traditional arcane shadow-think about Elements is a tad shy of the full picture, y'see. There are not just four elements, or even five. There is an element for every spikard: eleven, so far.

So far? Yes, it is possible to restructure the universe and create another spikard. Go look here. Possible if you think you can survive taking the universe apart and putting it back together again.

Back to Patternblades. Werewindle is called the Daysword, as Grayswandir is named the the Nightblade. Seems pretty clear that Werewindle is Not the Daysword and then linked to Rebma's Pattern. It ought to be linked to Amber's own Pattern. Which leaves us one blade short at least. Who has misplaced the blade of Rebma? Or what former royal of Amber was using it when they were lost?

Sound like a con game idea?

:: Arref Mak 14.8.03 :: link ::
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Shadows of Amber :: The Center of All Things :: Amber mindset and psychology

:: Arref Mak 14.8.03 :: link ::
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MST3k: Dark Dungeons
justice lives!!!

:: Arref Mak 14.8.03 :: link ::
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I'm extremely pleased with the Character Voices being created in backstory in the Grand Affair game. So far (though not all published), I've been treated to a great Julian, Dara, Martin, and Random. I also have hints that other ongoing backstories are equally impressive. This should be a fascinating game.

:: Arref Mak 14.8.03 :: link ::
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The Princess Bride
I'm sure it's no big surprise to you that your romance is The Princess Bride. A heartwarming tale of "Twue Wuve" that has giants, Spainards and swashbuckling. You really do think that love can overcome anything. You may be a touch naive but your heart is certainly in the right place. You've probably got one of those relationships where proper nouns have been replaced with "Snookums" and "Pookie Pie". Eww. Beware a cuteness overload.

What Romance Movie Best Represents Your Love Life?
brought to you by Quizilla

:: Arref Mak 14.8.03 :: link ::
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::. Wednesday, August 13 .::

House of Cards Family Tree

:: Arref Mak 13.8.03 :: link ::
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storybookland: Warwick Goble (1862-1943)
nice artwork :: more

:: Arref Mak 13.8.03 :: link ::
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somehow, the online world keeps track of stuff like this--
yes, today another day older and deeper in debt
many thanks to all

:: Arref Mak 13.8.03 :: link ::
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The Matrix Online :: tip from 'Roll the Bones Forum'

:: Arref Mak 13.8.03 :: link ::
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UNDERWORLD :: 9.19.2003
if looks were a movie, this one has a vibe

:: Arref Mak 13.8.03 :: link ::
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AmberCon North 2003
gamebook soon ready
running three games as of today

:: Arref Mak 13.8.03 :: link ::
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::. Tuesday, August 12 .::

Download details: Blaster Worm: Critical Security Patch for Windows XP
patched up Anne's machine :: wouldn't you know we get high-speed access just in time for a worm attack

:: Arref Mak 12.8.03 :: link ::
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I called this Keeping Things In
when it originally went out on the AML
uh, hey list
have we ever done this as a thread before?
that key
the one that hangs *outside* the Pattern room, keeping "things" inside?
what's up with that?
survey says:

1. A damn easy place to find it, when you need to keep someone off the Pattern. "Martin, go lock the Pattern room and bring me the key." Makes the next question, who designed that lock?

2. Patternghosts can't get out, so Patternghosts only happen when Tir is in the sky.

3. Those little luminous fish in the tiny pond in the room? Osric and Finndo. Serves them right, but need to keep the door closed, just in case.

Seriously though, anyone made an interesting quirk of this in-game?

:: Arref Mak 12.8.03 :: link ::
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Population: One's Monday Mashup
Hold your hats, pardners, we got us a new gaming meme in town...
and it's fun. Modern media mashed into a gaming world...
so far, CSI, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Narnia, and Neuromancer are the four selected runs.

tip from Jvstin!

:: Arref Mak 12.8.03 :: link ::
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New log from the Cassandra Diaries. This was a number of great sessions in our irregular schedule over the last eight weeks of the Amber, the Eternal City campaign. The last log was weird and wonderful--this one is even better--if I do say so as the GM.
Thanks again to Viv and Anne for being great Players.

:: Arref Mak 12.8.03 :: link ::
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New house, new ISP, new routes, folks getting married at work, babies arriving, and life is good.

:: Arref Mak 12.8.03 :: link ::
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::. Monday, August 11 .::

I want to start your week with creative colors and inspiration:
Elfwood: 'Youth and the Champion' by Danielle Williams
colors of magic
Elfwood: 'Silver and Cold' by Pana Stamos
like the colors
Elfwood: 'Daughter of the moon' by Anu Toivonen
Elfwood, Fantasy Art, Fantasy art by Dale Williams
update :: Dale Williams' work may not be his at all. Link warning copyright violation. Shame.

:: Arref Mak 11.8.03 :: link ::
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::. Sunday, August 10 .::

Navigational Methods
bit of reference handy for Golden Circle merchants

:: Arref Mak 10.8.03 :: link ::
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A Grand Affair
startup for an Amber game of romance and intrigue
web pages nearly fully fleshed

:: Arref Mak 10.8.03 :: link ::
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